Inner Strength

It’s that time of year when thoughts go to Christmas decorations coming down, resolutions for the new year come to mind, what your “word of the year” or theme will be be. Reflection. Changes. Decluttering. Reorganizing. (And you know how I love to declutter!)

But this year, as I was contemplating all of this, I had a slightly different take on it. Yes, I still want most of the crap in my basement gone. I’ll be working on that slowly this winter. Yes, I want to lose more weight, gain more muscle, and get Linda Hamilton arms. Yes, I want to find my inner zen more easily in times in difficulty or stress. Find my breath.

I want to also let go. I want to let go of things that weigh me down, both physically and mentally. I want to start each day with a positive intention and carry it through my day, no matter what is thrown at me. I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Everyone has a bad day. Or two. Or 10. But I want to find a way, if I can, to not get bogged down with stress, or misfortune, or just general unhappiness. I want to look at it in a different way.

What can I do to change it? Make it better? Because that is all that is my power. I can’t change someone else or their situation. I can fix me. I can fix my outlook. I can change my reaction. I can change what comes out of my mouth (which has got me in trouble more than a little!) and I can certainly change my perception.

So what weighs us down? A bad relationship that you know is not serving you and your interests anymore? Are you staying for the wrong reasons with a friend, a spouse, a lover? Are you spending more time bitching about this person instead of finding ways to improve it? Can you admit your part in it to help you find closure? That’s a tough one! It’s so much easier to place all the blame on the other person, but does that really help you feel better when you close your eyes at night?

Finding out what you need, what you really truly need, and then making that happen is what you can control. And what a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, the only thing you can control is your own breath. The world feels like it’s falling apart all around you and the only thing you can do for those first few moments is breathe. My yogi tells us to listen to our breath. Listen to it. Control it. Slow it. Regain your footing. When you feel you’re on solid ground, then start over. But you’ll have a harder time regaining your own footing when you’re relying on someone else for that. Trying to hold on to the broken friendship, the crumbled marriage, the relationship you thought was going somewhere turned out in the light of morning to not be what you hoped it would be. What then? Do you blame the friend, the spouse, for their failure in making you happy?

The guilt that comes with letting go of those relationships can be overwhelming too. We try and try and try to make it work. We don’t want to give up on years of that friendship. Or think we should stay in a marriage for the kids. Don’t we lose ourselves in that process? I’ve spoken before about the great loss I went through losing a friend of decades and how I didn’t know how to cope, how to deal and move forward. It seriously was harder than my divorce. More tears were shed, more sleepless nights, more self doubt and constant questioning shouting in my head. I couldn’t make her take me back. I couldn’t make her want me in her life. I couldn’t make her see how completely devastated I was. But through all that, I learned how to find myself that I had lost.

This year, this year is about finding my inner strength. Mind, body and spirit. I’m going to push myself to do things I never would have thought to try. I’m going to do things I always wanted to do but was afraid to. (Maybe time for my tattoo on my shoulder??) I’m going to allow myself to be a bit selfish. To think of what I want, what I need, and making it happen. I’m going find my inner zen. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to stretch me out of my comfort zone as a people pleaser and a habitual “fixer”. And I’m thankful for 2014 teaching me that I can’t fix anyone but me. And what a waste of time it has been to try.



Things I’ve learned in yoga

I was laying in our final Savasana this morning, thinking about what my Yogi was saying. She was talking about fear, because our theme this year is fearlessness. But not just being fearless, but embracing the fear and finding out what is on the other side it. She often encourages us to let go, sink further, breathe deeper, really listening to your body and what it is allowing you to do.

I spend at least half the time in our class with my eyes closed. I probably look like an idiot, but I don’t care. I like blocking out what I’m seeing and focusing on what she is guiding me to do. I feel like I can stretch into a pose stronger when I’m not seeing my reflection across from me. Closing my eyes I can be the strong yoga student, the graceful arms, the proper technique.

As we were laying in Savasana I was also overwhelmed with emotions. I was happy that I was able to do a few more poses, go that much farther, take it one more step beyond what I had done before. (There were actually a couple of things I did today that I have been unable to do til now. Woo Hoo!!) I was trying to let go of the stressors in my life in my attempt to get that mojo back. Tears welled in my eyes as we lay there, focusing on my heart rate, my breathing, thankful for everything I was able to do today.

It truly can be overwhelming laying there. Most people would think that just laying on the floor after yoga class would just be, well, lying there. But I think that unless you truly release yourself during that simple act of lying there, you can’t understand the power. The connection of your mind and body and spirit. And my wonderful Yogi once told me that when tears flow in that position, to let them flow. Your body is purging toxins. Letting go. There is something very freeing in that. When you’re surrounded by people who support you (which I am in my class because the girls there not only rock, but have also become such good friends!)

So as she came around and laid her hands on each of us, straightening my head, pushing my shoulders down, lengthening my legs, the tears overcame me. It was a very surreal feeling but one I embraced.

I’ve learned that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve learned that I can and should embrace where I am right now. I’ve learned that we don’t always see the baby steps we take, but when we look back, we see the journey has taken us further than we ever thought we could go. And I’ve learned that letting go is sometimes the best thing to do, because sometimes you’re holding on to tightly.

yoga pigeon

Goal one and done!

One of my goals for this year was to make sure if I had something on my calendar, that I did it. If I can go so far as to write it down, block it off, plan for it, then I can DO it. Sometimes, despite best intentions, life can seem to get in the way and things I have written down get pushed back, or cancelled altogether. I wanted to try to change that.

So I have my yoga classes scheduled. They are on every single calendar I have marking my time off for that. I realized that I was missing more than I was attending towards the end of the year and I didn’t like it. I was sick. I had surgery. Christmas. Lots of great reasons to miss. But those misses can quickly turn to habit of NOT going. And I didn’t want that. I love my yoga class too much to just let it fade into a passing fad. 

So this morning I got up early, had my one cup of coffee (have you ever had more than one cup of coffee and then tried to do yoga? It doesn’t go well! Trust me on this point.) showered and was ready to go! Even though it was so cold and it would’ve been sooooo easy to stay in bed, or on the couch under my soft fuzzy pink blanket with a second cup of coffee. And wow am I glad I went. You want to know why? Sure ya do!

Because my many above mentioned “misses” showed up in my body and in my head! Good grief! I felt my body trembling, saw my arms quivering, and knew I was not nearly as bendy as I was before! I want my bendy back!! I tried, and I pushed, and closed my eyes and tried to picture that place of zen to stop the trembling. Listen to my yoga instructors voice. Breathe. Breathe. Listen to the music. Only one pose tripped me up completely and it was one I struggle with constantly. Even though I was disappointed in myself for completely failing that pose, I made it through class without crying or grabbing my purse and leaving!  So that’s a start, right?

It’s starting off this new year of ME right, by doing something **I** wanted to do. It’s good for my mind, spirit and body. I even hugged my yogi after class! How many people can say they do that??  

Monday is my next class and we’re supposed to get stupid cold weather (I mean, it’s going to be so cold that it’s stupid, not that the cold is stupid. Cold can’t be stupid. It’s just cold.) and snow, but as long as they is still class being held, I will be there. I am committed. I will be more bendy. I will do it for me.